Pink Martini goes down smooth at MPAC

China Forbes of Pink Martini, at MPAC, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. China Forbes did him one better.

She left her appendix in Morristown.

Granted, that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as smoothly. But you can bet that if Forbes and her band mates in Pink Martini ever set those words to music, it will swing in surprising ways.

China Forbes of Pink Martini, in Morristown, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Forbes, lead singer of the 12-piece band, told Thursday’s audience at the Mayo Performing Arts Center that in her college days, she dated a boy from Bernardsville.

While visiting him, her appendix misbehaved. It had to go. Morristown Memorial Hospital, as it was called then, was her next stop.

China Forbes and Dan Faehnle of Pink Martini, in Morristown, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Her latest visit to Morristown ended on a happier note –with a conga line snaking around the theater to Pink Martini’s pulsating encore.

It was a fitting celebration for a band which, like MPAC, is marking its 25th year.

Pink Martini founder Thomas Lauderdale at MPAC, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The straws that stir Pink Martini are pianist/songwriter Thomas Lauderdale, who launched the group to spice up political events in his native Portland, Ore.; and Forbes, his former Harvard classmate.

She sings in more than 20 languages and has dueted with Michael Feinstein, Carol Channing and Rufus Wainwright, among others.

Gavin Bondy, left, and Robert Taylor, of Pink Martini, at MPAC, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Thursday’s set list ranged from Jacques Brel to Latin confections to pop originals like the infectious Eugene and Sympathique, a jaunty tune that has become an anthem for French workers during strikes, thanks to a chorus that translates: “I don’t want to work!”

Other highlights included Mexican singer Edna Vazquez‘s sultry interpretation of Bésame Mucho, Timothy Nishimoto‘s lead vocal on Donde Estas Yolanda? and Jimmie Herrod’s lyrical, soaring turn on The Exodus Song (This Land is Mine), which brought chills.

Edna Vasquez, Jimmie Herrod and Timothy Nishimoto of Pink Martini sign CDs after MPAC concert, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Yet for sheer joy, two musical moments stood out. Forbes invited all the ladies in the house to join her on stage for a rousing sing-along of Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman.

China Forbes of Pink Martini invites ladies onstage at MPAC, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

And the hard-to-categorize and impossible-to-ignore Meow Meow dragooned two unwitting gentlemen from the audience to be her “chorus” in a vampy Cabaret number that was cry-in-your-program funny.

Look for the Australia native next year with Taylor Swift and Judy Dench in a film version of Cats.

Prrrrrr-fect!

Violinist Nicholas Crosa and pianists Hunter Noack and Thomas Lauderdale perform with Pink Martini in Morristown, Oct. 3, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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